A health worker administers an anti-measles vaccine during the launching of the mass vaccination program in Baguio City on February 12. (PNA file photo)
BAGUIO CITY -- More health workers will be deployed to go around the different households and administer anti-measles vaccine to children, an official of the city's Health Services Office (HSO) said.
“We are going to continue with the vaccination, there was a memo from DOH (Department of Health) extending up to April 12. Mukhang magbibigay ng additional manpower ang DOH from a certain private organization para suyurin ang iba-ibang mga lugar (It looks like the DOH will give additional manpower to help scour all areas),” Dr. Rowena Galpo, Baguio City HSO chief, said on Monday.
She said they were only able to accomplish a 44-percent vaccination for children in the age group of six to 59 months.
Galpo said the DOH identified 34,000 children as target for the mass immunization since the program started on February 12. However, as of end of March, only 44 percent of the target has been immunized.
Galpo said workers from the HSO have mapped out the villages, going house to house to look for the target of the mass vaccination for measles and for Japanese encephalitis.
“We are working with them -- kagawad in charge of health, barangay health workers, nurses, other volunteers are assisting us -- but they did not find other children. We are actually wondering where the children are,” Galpo said.
She said they have close coordination with private pediatricians supporting the government’s project, who send their patients to health centers for vaccination.
Galpo said they are also assessing if the estimated target has overshot, which could be the reason for the low accomplishment.
The 34,000 is 9.3 percent of the total population in the age group of six to 59 months.
However, if the number will be based on the actual live birth from the local civil registry, it will only be 28,000 and the actual accomplishment will be about 60 percent.
“Still low. We still want to find the others. We are appealing to the public to help us, come to us or let us know where they are,” Galpo said. “Siguro nga hindi pa namin na-cover lahat and we hope to increase the coverage (maybe we have not yet covered all),” she added as she expressed determination that they can still find the others.
Galpo revealed that in the last three years, there had been a recorded decrease in the efforts to accomplish full immunization as it went down to below 90 percent.
“Bumaba tayo ng 86 to 85 percent, kasama dyan ang measles vaccination which led to the hike in cases this year (It went down to 86-85 percent, including measles vaccination)," she said.
She said the decrease in number of children getting immunization resulted in the hike in measles cases, which is also due to the continued refusal of some parents for religious reasons.
“That means we were not able to maintain a certain level of immunity of at least 90 to 95 percent to say that the whole community is protected, which caused this year’s increase in cases,” Galpo said.
The city HSO recorded 233 measles cases from January 1 to March 30, 2019. Around two weeks ago, the office recorded 218 cases as compared to the only four cases during the same period in 2018.
Galpo said there has been a significant decline in measles cases in the city over the last two weeks of this month.
Health authorities are confident the situation has stabilized, although there is still a need to look for the children who failed to get immunized or take the second dosage.
Earlier, the regional office of the DOH targeted a total of 175,000 children, who should be vaccinated against measles and Japanese encephalitis, considering the alarming increase in the number of cases in the different parts of the country over the past several months.
Baguio City has some 16 district health centers that cater to the health needs of people living in the city’s 128 barangays year-round, aside from the presence of government and private medical institutions that also cater to patients coming from inside and outside the city. (PNA)